Braves’ bizarre record-breaking streak finally comes to an end with first sac bunt of season

Braves’ bizarre record-breaking streak finally comes to an end with first sac bunt of season

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Baseball has changed immensely in recent years. In today’s game, the art of bunting is essentially lost.

The Atlanta Braves had 32 sacrifice bunts last year, 11th most in baseball during their World Series-winning campaign. 

This year, though, they’ve scrapped small ball.

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Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras (24) tries to bunt in the tenth inning during a game against the San Diego Padres May 15, 2022, at Truist Park in Atlanta, Ga.

Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras (24) tries to bunt in the tenth inning during a game against the San Diego Padres May 15, 2022, at Truist Park in Atlanta, Ga. (John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Braves did not have a successful sacrifice bunt all season until Tuesday night, when rookie Michael Harris broke the streak.

In the top of the fourth inning, while leading the Miami Marlins 1-0, the Braves led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Harris laid down a bunt, advancing both runners.

It didn’t work. After Robbie Grossman struck out, the Marlins intentionally walked Ronald Acuna Jr. to face Dansby Swanson, who also struck out to end the inning.

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The 160 consecutive games without a successful sac bunt was the longest streak in MLB history, surpassing the 137-game streak set by the New York Yankees from July 3, 2019, to Sept. 25, 2020.

Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves looks on against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Sept. 23, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves looks on against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Sept. 23, 2022, in Philadelphia. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The last time the Braves successfully bunted was in the final game of last season. Pitcher Spencer Strider laid down a bunt in that game.

With the evolution of baseball and the addition of the designated hitter to the National League, bunts are at an all-time low. Entering Tuesday, there were just 385 bunts in the majors this season, compared to last year’s 766. Last year’s league average was 38 sacrifices per team. This season? Thirteen.

But the strategy is working for the Braves. They are one win (or one Mets loss) away from clinching their fifth-straight NL East title and have the best record in baseball since June 1 at 77-33.

Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves bats against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Sept. 23, 2022 in Philadelphia.

Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves bats against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Sept. 23, 2022 in Philadelphia. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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This season, only 11 MLB teams have more than 13 sacrifices. Eight of those teams will not be playing in the postseason. Out of the 19 teams below the average in sacrifices, nine will be playing for a World Series.

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